40 million people visit Times Square every year.
Times Square is not a square at all. In fact, it is composed of two triangles formed by Broadway crossing 7th Avenue between 47th and 42nd Streets. It is also one of the best known and most exciting areas of the city, if not the country.
History of the neighborhood
Times Square, formerly known as Longacre Square, was renamed in April 1904 after the New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building, now called One Times Square, and is the site of the annual New Year’s Eve balloon drop. Times Square, nicknamed “The Crossroads of the World” and “The Great White Way,” is a global landmark and a symbol of New York City and the United States.
It wasn’t always like this. Earlier in the century, Times Square was known as the center of the city’s horse trade. Then it became the heart of the entertainment district, with its theaters, cinemas and glitter. Slowly, the gold dust faded and darker forces took over. Shabby hotels and peepshows became the norm, with prostitutes roaming the once clean streets at night. Suddenly, Times Square was no longer a very safe and glamorous place.
Recently, however, thanks to the efforts of Disney and others, Times Square has experienced a renaissance. Gone are the strip clubs and dark hotels; they have been replaced by cafes, family restaurants, a Disney-run theater and clean, upscale hotels. Now that the city is safe again, it may be time to plan a day of discovery.
In 1990, New York State took ownership of six of the nine historic theaters on 42nd Street, and the nonprofit New 42nd Street was formed to oversee their restoration and preservation. The theaters have been renovated to accommodate Broadway shows, converted to commercial use, or demolished.
The first thing you’ll notice is the publicity. It’s everywhere. Buildings are actually required to have ads and slogans, so much so that you can’t help but feel trapped by advertising. Most billboards are very elaborate.
In addition to the shops and restaurants, there is also a huge Sony owned video screen at 1 Times Square Plaza, as well as a ticker that provides the latest stock quotes and world events. Media enthusiasts will be interested in the fact that ABC and MTV have studios overlooking Times Square, a position that greatly helps the latter network in terms of advertising and proximity to major music and entertainment events.
Believe it or not, there is also a rally in Times Square every December 31. This discreet event, known as New Year’s Eve, features about 9 million drunken people and a luminescent ball that is slowly lowered from the pole to 1 Times Square Plaza.
How to get to Times Square
Times Square is a large shopping mall located in the Manhattan borough of New York City at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, stretching from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street, between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, east to west, and between 40th Street and 53rd Street, south to north